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Moo Goo Gai Pan Vs. Chop Suey

Moo goo gai pan and chop suey are prominent Chinese American dishes and also favorites on the menus of Chinese American restaurants globally.  

These dishes have achieved widespread popularity and are enjoyed for their rich blend of meats and vegetables stir-fried in a wok with flavorful sauces. 

If you aren’t familiar with Chinese American cuisines, these dishes may seem alike, but despite their apparent similarities to those unfamiliar with Chinese American cuisines, Moo goo gai pan and chop suey exhibit subtle differences in ingredients and flavors,  

In this post we discuss these two dishes and find out what sets them apart. 

What is moo goo gai pan?

Moo goo gai pan is a dish inspired by another similarly named Chinese dish made from chicken and mushrooms, known as ‘Moh gu gai pin,’ meaning chicken and mushrooms.  

In moo goo gai pan, the recipe has been Americanized.  

It typically consists of chicken, mushrooms, and vegetables like white chestnut, bamboo shoots, snap peas and carrots.  

White button mushrooms are also commonly used.  

The boneless chicken is cut into strips, and mushrooms are sliced. The chicken can also be dipped in cornstarch and egg white.  

The dish includes a sauce made from chicken stock, cornstarch, soy sauce, and may also include garlic.  

The chicken and vegetables are stir-fried until crisp, then the sauce is added to thicken. 

Moo goo gai pan typically has a subtle taste from the combination of ingredients. 

The dish is often served with white rice or noodles. 

What is chop suey?

Chop suey is a stir-fry dish from Chinese American cuisine that can be found worldwide.  

It is commonly seen on Chinese American restaurant menus, with variations in recipes.  

It consists of various vegetables and meats or fish.  

Meats like pork, chicken, or beef can be used, along with vegetables like cabbage, celery, bean sprouts, onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms.  

The ingredients are stir-fried in a wok together with a rich sauce made from soy sauce and oyster sauce.  

Chop suey can be eaten with noodles or rice. The rice is often steamed, and noodles deep-fried.  

This flavorful dish has a rich savory flavor profile. 

Difference between moo goo gai pan and chop suey


Chop suey is more loosely defined, allowing for a wider variety of meat and vegetables. In contrast, moo goo gai pan typically contains chicken and mushrooms. 


Moo goo gai pan has a milder flavor compared to the bold and complex flavors of chop suey.


The sauce in moo goo gai pan is a mild-flavored clear sauce made from chicken broth. In chop suey, the sauce has a more intense flavor and is made from soy sauce and other ingredients.